Art, Animation & Film Analysis by James Chiang

James Chiang's Weekly Blog for Creative Insight & Inspiration

Latest articles


In animation, we often say spacing is timing. Well, that’s not exactly true or complete, but spacing is a key component of any movement (along with time and path of action). When done wrong, spacing seems non-existent or an afterthought leading to flat work that’s both weightless and unconvincing. When done right, spacing gives action … Continue reading...

The Importance of Risk

“One must jump off the cliff with hands free.” — Zen Proverb What does it mean “to jump off with hands free?” Perhaps simply this: to leap into the unknown without holding on because the “hands that hold” prevent us from lifting off. So what are we holding on to? And why are we so … Continue reading The Importance of Risk →

Favorite Films: Part 10

Times of great crisis are also times of great opportunity. What has been considered normal — the previously accepted — can no longer be viewed as acceptable. In front of all of us now, both in America and elsewhere, we can plainly see the gross injustices and prejudices that continue to plague the world; oppressions … Continue reading Favorite Films:...

The Need for Order

“There is in me an anarchy and frightful disorder. Creating makes me die a thousand deaths, because it means making order, and my entire being rebels against order. But without it I would die, scattered to the winds.” — Albert Camus, Writer It can be stated that order is as essential to living as is … Continue reading The Need for Order →

The Breakdown Key

“Music is the space between the notes.” — Claude Debussy, Composer Today I’m gonna share a simple tip that will greatly improve one’s animation. We’re talking, of course, of what is commonly known as the “Breakdown Key.” Whichever method an animator may choose work in, straight ahead or pose-to-pose, we all know that all shots are built … Continue reading...

Services Notification

For those who might be interested I am opening up new time slots for private coaching/instruction for animation artists looking to significantly improve their skills or simply wish to re-learn the craft the “right way” having experienced other forms of instruction that may have proven deficient/insufficient. The approach I offer will vastly strengthen...

Beyond Self

“Foregoing self, the universe grows I.” — Sir Edwin Arnold, Poet Perhaps the greatest thing we love about making art is that it commands the utmost out of us. When we commit fully, we forget about ourselves. And thus, we waste no energy on such abstract matters as success, money, recognition, or even goals. All … Continue reading Beyond Self →

Women in Art, Part 1

“What would men be without women? Scarce, sir…mighty scarce.” — Mark Twain Long overdue, this begins a series of posts dedicated exclusively to the often underrated and unsung women in the visual arts. First off, women amaze me. Not only do they carry the burden of procreation, they’re most often the soul of the family … Continue reading Women in Art,...

Reflections on what has become Habitual

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” — Henry David Thoreau, Writer. In a time of crisis, like what has taken hold of the world today, it is difficult to think of or talk about anything else but the crisis itself. As the modern world comes to a halt, it quietly … Continue reading Reflections on what has become Habitual →

Shot Analysis: Medusa

Today, without too much explanation or annotation I’d like to show how I might look at a scene for study. In this case, it’s a very rough and quick breakdown of an excellent but complex piece of animation to try to get a feel for how an artist/animator may have set up his/her work. Sometimes, … Continue reading Shot Analysis: Medusa →

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